The divorce dilemma (1 Cor. 7: 10-16)




ИмеThe divorce dilemma (1 Cor. 7: 10-16)
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THE DIVORCE DILEMMA (1 Cor. 7:10-16)

12-14-08




Forbes magazine often lists the richest individuals and most profitable businesses


You should be happy to know that they recently listed the Dallas Cowboys again

as the m ost valueable sports franchise


But in April 2007 they listed a depressing list: “The Ten Most Expensive Celebrity Divorces”


Michael Jordan had to be the greatest basketball player ever

but he also has the distinction of having history’s most expensive divorce


His divorce cost him $150 million


However I was amazed to learn that singer Neil Diamond’s 1995 divorce cost him almost as much


In third place was Steven Spielberg whose 1989 divorce cost him $100 million

Harrison Ford’s divorce cost him $85 million


Kevin Costner’s divorce cost him $80 million

and Paul McCartney’s divorce cost him was estimated to cost him $60 million


Ain’t it great to be rich and famous


As costly as these numbers sound they barely hint at the costs of divorce


Few things are more difficult or complex to talk about than divorce

But in our studies in 1 Corinthians we come today to Paul’s only passage dealing directly with divorce


On the one hand as we’ll see God designed and desires for marriage to last for a lifetime

God says in Malachi 2(16): “I hate divorce!


Divorce devestate individuals, families and eventually entire cultures

We are in the midst of a cultural meltdown in which divorce is one of the primary causes


The common statistic is that only one half of marriages today will survive

and less than 1/3 of second marriages survive


We are in the midst of marital meltdown and Christians should do everything we possibly can

to oppose divorce and help marriages be all that God intends them to be


On the one hand we must stand for marriage and against divorce


But on the other hand if half of marriages in American aren’t going to survive

that means that half of Americans have been devestated by divorce


And we must minister to them


We must fight for the truth that marriage is meant to be one of God’s greatest blessings



We must not hang scarlet Ds around their necks & write them off as having committed the unpardonable s


But to speak against divorce on any level can bring wrath from some people,

inflict pain on others and always runs the risk of being misunderstood


That’s why I’ve always appreciated this cartoon


It is incredibly challenge to speak on divorce and balance love and truth

And it doesn’t help that what the Bible actually says about divorce is hotly disputed


Divorce is so complicated that when we came to Jesus’ first discussion of it in Matthew

we spent weeks examining the subject


And part of me is tempted to do that again


It’s really the only way to come anywhere close to dealing justly with this subject


But part of me also does not want to go down a 3-4 week sidetrail from 1 Corinthians either


SO I am going to today try to very simply summarize what the Bible says about divorce

If I get fourteen dozen questions then we may do more weeks


But be assured that we cannot examine everything the Bible says today and be assured

that this necessitates oversimplifying, distorting and not nearly saying everything that ought to be said


But I believe God’s Word says three basic things about divorce


1) God designed marriage to last a lifetime (Gen. 2:24; Mal. 2:16; Matt. 19:6;

Mk. 10:1-12; Lk. 16:18)


When God created marriage He said that it involved a man and a woman leaving their families

being united together, cleaving to one another, literally stuck together like glue


The Hebrew term God uses here is often used in other Old Testament contexts

to refer to covenantal relationships and the essence of marriage is a covenant


As we’ve already said God says in Malachi 2 that He hates divorce


In Matthew 19:6 Jesus says: “What God has joined together, let man not separate.”

That is, human beings, husband and wives, are not to break up marriages


In Mark 10 and Luke 16 when Jesus teaches on divorce He mentions no provision

for divorce and remarriage


He says simply: “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery,

and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Lk. 16:18)


In fact most of the verses in the Bible relevant to marriage make no provision for divorce and remarriage


However there are at least four passages which seem to make some permission

for divorce and remarriage


So which is it?


Does God sometimes permit divorce and remarriage or is there no basis for remarriage

if a divorce occurs?


Well Christians have interpreted the Bible in one of three basic ways:


Some argue that divorce and remarriage are never permissible

Some argue that divorce is inevitable and while always regrettable should always be tolerated


Some argue that


2) God sometimes permits divorce and remarriage (Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 5:31-32; 19:9;

1 Cor. 7:10-16; 2 Cor. 5:17)


For the first 1500 years of church history most taught that there was no legitimate basis

for divorce and remarriage


Since the Protestant Reformation most Protestants have taught that divorce and remarriage

are permissible in two circumstances:


If adultery occurs or if an unbelieving spouse desserts a believing spouse


However in the last few decades most Protestants have increasingly tolerated divorce

and remarriage for almost any reason


This has been one of the chief reasons that one half of marriages end in divorce today

There is precious little positive pressure to preserve marriages


Now without going into further into the debates about divorce I believe that the Bible teaches

that divorce and remarriage are sometimes permissible because of four passages


While most of the Bible simply emphasizes the permanence of marriage

four passages taken at face value seem to say that divorce is sometimes permitted


The first passage is Deuteronomy 24:1-4:


 1 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, 2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, 3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, 4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD

your God is giving you as an inheritance.


Now if this passage confuses you don’t feel alone because it has been debated for centuries


The Jews split into two schools of thought regarding divorce

based upon how they interpreted this passage


The “conservative” Shammai school argued that this passage teaches that divorce is only permissible

when there is some kind of gross indecency


The “liberal” Hillel school taught that if a husband found anything displeasing in his wife

then he could divorce her

The first thing to note is that the Mosaic Law apparently does make a provision for divorce here


I say apparently because some believe that God is only regulating what was happening

rather than permitting it


“Something indecent” is probably similar to the broad term for sexual immorality

that we will see Jesus use in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19


But the primary point of this passage is to protect women from being bounced back and forth

between husbands like disposable property


Husbands should think long and hard about divorcing their wives because if she marries another

they can never have her back




The really determinative passages are Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19


Jesus says in Matthew 5:



31"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'

32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her

to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.


Jesus says here that divorce and remarriage amounts to those involved

being involved in adultery “except for marital unfaithfulness”


The Greek term here is porneia, from which we get our modern word English word pornography,

and which refers to a broad range of sexual sins


Jesus says the same thing in Matthew 19 but there is more detail there:


3Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife

for any and every reason?"


They’re alluding to the broadest interpretation of Deuteronomy 24 but Jesus responds


4"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'5and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."


Jesus says in effect: “The important issue is not when divorce is permitted

but that marriage is designed to be permanent.”


7"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce

and send her away?"

 

8Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.

But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife,

except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."


Jesus says again here that divorce is permissible in porneia, sexual immorality,

marital unfaithfulness, repeatedly occurs


I say repeatedly because God’s desire is always repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation


Any incident of adultery, for example, is abominable but it should not be an absolute death sentence

for a marriage


Now if we had the time and patience we could debate four primary views of what is called

“Jesus’ exception clause”: except for porneia


If you want to seriously examine this debate the best resource is the book

Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views edited by H. Wayne House


The first three views all emphasize that most of the Bible seems to speak only of the permanence

of marriage so these exceptions must be harmonized with the rest of the Bible


The church fathers belielved that Jesus is saying here that divorce is permissible

for sexual sin but remarriage is not allowed


Some believe that immorality here refers to incestuous marriage such as described in Lev. 18

Others believe that immorality here refers to the violation of betrothal


In these cases divorce would be permissible because a legitimate marriage never took place


But the majority Protestant viewpoint has been that we should take Jesus’ words at face value

Jesus does make an allowance for divorce and remarriage here


Jesus says that repeated sexual immorality is such a violation of the marriage covenant

that it makes divorce and remarriage permissible


Divorce is never desireable and never automatic if a singular sin occurs

but it is sometimes permissible if there is a pattern of sexual sin


But specifically what kinds of sexual sin might make divorce permissible?


Well obviously any kind of sexual intercourse outside of your marriage, but some would argue

that if a man is a pedophile or truly a sexual addict then things like this might also apply


If you’re interested in better understanding the view that divorce & remarriage are sometimes permissible

some of the best presentations include:


John MacArthur’s Jesus Teaching On Divorce

Jay Adams’ Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

Guy Duty’s Divorce and Remarriage

and the best is William Luck’s Divorce and Remarriage (but unfortunately it is out of print)

(Another good but different approach is Andrew Cornes’ Divorce and Remarriage)


But finally let’s look at the passage that we’re supposed to be studying today 1 Cor. 7:10-16

Let me read through it and briefly explain it



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